Today on Rappler:
- The Philippines expands its territory– adding Benham Rise– an underwater plateau off Aurora Province.
- US President Barack Obama tells troops in Afghanistan, the “time of war” ends and a new era dawns.
- And, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi backs down and takes the controversial oath of office as member of Myanmar parliament.
Story 1: BENHAM RISE
The Philippines just expanded its territory. It now owns Benham Rise, an underwater plateau off the coast of Aurora.
Benham Rise is all of 13 million hectares and is larger than Luzon.
The United Nations approved the Philippine’s claim to the underwater plateau.
This is the Philippines’ first successful validation of a territorial claim under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. No other country is claiming Benham Rise, unlike Scarborough Shoal or Spratly Islands.
Marine law expert Jay Batongbacal says the 2 to 5 thousand meter-deep area is potentially a rich source of manganese and natural gas, but warns it has not been explored.
Environment secretary Ramon Paje says Benham Rise is the future. He adds “We’ve been saying this in the past. This country can provide for its own energy”.
Story 2: BOTTOM WAGES
An International Labor Organization study affirms what our overseas foreign workers were saying all along: some of the lowest wages in the world can be found in the Philippines.
The Philippine average monthly wage of 279 dollars or roughly 11,700 pesos, places the country at the bottom 3 of the 72 listed countries, just above Pakistan and Tajikistan. The world’s poorest countries were not included in the study.
In contrast, the highest average monthly wage is Luxembourg’s with 4,089 dollars.
The ILO presented a world average monthly wage of 1,480 dollars based on statistics per country.
The statistics includes only wage earners and not the self-employed.
Story 3: OBAMA
President Barack Obama marked the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death by slipping into Afghanistan and telling the US troops there, a “time of war” is ending for the United States.
“This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end…Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.
Earlier, Obama promised to wind down costly and unpopular wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. His visit comes just 4 days before two big campaign rallies kick off his re-election bid.
Obama pledged support for Afghanistan for 10 years after the withdrawal of the last American soldiers at the end of 2014, an attempt to end US involvement responsibly.
Critics say that’s not enough, and a hasty pullout could repeat history. After the Soviets & Americans pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, it created a power vacuum that gave birth to al-Qaeda.
“What happened was Afghanistan crumbled, and it became a safe haven,” said Gunaratna. “So the same thing is likely to happen – unless the international community, especially the Western nations that have the discipline and the resources, remain committed to the security and stability of Afghanistan.” –
AUTHOR, ‘INSIDE AL QAEDA’
Story 4: BLIND DISSIDENT
A United States official confirms escaped Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, rumored to be hiding at the US Embassy in Beijing, is now at a medical facility in the city. The official says Chen will be reunited with his family.
The news comes hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in China for talks.
China now demands an apology for what it calls interference in its affairs.
Chen angered Chinese authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilizations under China’s “one-child” policy. He fled house arrest last week despite round the clock surveillance and sought refuge in the US embassy. The 40-year-old self-taught lawyer has been blind since childhood.
He thanked the United States for arranging his safety and told Clinton, “I want to kiss you.”
Story 5: SUU KYI
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi takes her oath as a member of Myanmar’s parliament.
Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy read the parliamentary oath. Her party won 43 of 44 seats it contested last April.
Earlier, Suu Kyi refused the oath which pledges to safeguard and abide by the Constitution, objecting specifically to the term ‘safeguard’.
She later conceded her position after Myanmar’s President refused to compromise.
The Nobel laureate’s oath marks a dramatic turn in the fortunes of the 66-year-old. Suu Kyi lived under house arrest for most of the past 20 years and now plays a key role in her nation’s transition to democracy.
Story 6: ST THERESA
Now it’s St Theresa’s College’s turn to sue.
The Catholic school filed criminal charges against the parents of 3 of its high school students for allegedly “failing to supervise their children.”
The school banned the three from graduation ceremonies after officials saw the students’ bikini photos on Facebook.
SunStar Cebu reports, STC filed the case to “affirm their parental responsibility” in helping the school develop the students.
According to the school’s complaint, the parents violated the Anti-Child Abuse Law because they failed to supervise their children–the result– the girls engaged in “vices” and “immoral acts,” referring to the photos of the students wearing bikinis.
The parents of the 3 girls went to court over the graduation ban. A Cebu City judge ruled the students should be allowed to attend, but the school defied the order saying it was “deficient.”
Story 7: THE WRAP
Let’s now look at Rappler’s “wRap” for today a list of the ten most important events around the world you shouldn’t miss.
In number 5, Manila hosts the 2012 Asian Development Bank Meeting starting today, May 2. Foreign guests– including finance ministers, central bank executives and top ranking government officials attend the meeting. The event highlights key industries that drive growth for the Philippines. On the first day, the ADB announces it raised US$12-B for anti-poverty efforts.
For number 7, a British Parliament report declares media mogul Rupert Murdoch unfit to run a major international company. The report follows the probe into a hacking scandal that rocked Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper last year.
For number 8, The Department of Health says it is closely monitoring a rare and deadlier strain of dengue first monitored in Zamboanga City two years ago. The DOH says dengue cases are increasing – adding cases usually increase when there are new serotype strains.
And at number 10, Facebook introduces a new feature which allows users to declare organ donor status. The move aims to help millions of people waiting for organ donations. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says the inspiration came from people using Facebook to solve social problems. The feature is not yet available in the Philippines.
Story 8: PALARO VETERAN
A Palarong Pambansa veteran, a person with disability, is now training for the London Paralympics. Roger Tapia remembers how Palaro changed his life.
This report from Jonathan Baldoza.
(Video report runs.)
From afar, Roger Tapia appears to be an ordinary athlete — he trains on the field, laughs with his teammates, and enjoys the bright sunshine.
But Tapia is no ordinary athlete. He has a cleft lip, which makes it hard for him to talk, and is missing a left arm.
Growing up, Tapia made sure his disability did not stop him from running.
Nag-start ako noong grade 5, tapos high school, Sumail ak osa mga laro sa amin sa Pagudpud, tapos sumali ako sa mga regional meets sa Pangasinan. Tapos sumali ako sa Palarong Pambansa.
He started in 5th grade and was successful in district and regional competitions. His big break came when he competed against able-bodied athletes at the 2008 Palarong Pambansa held in Palawan.
Kinuha ako ng coach ko sa Ilocos, si Coach Albaya, kinuha ako dito sa Jose Rizal University para maging atleta at makapag-aral. Kaya nakilala ko si Coach Jojo at Coach Elma.
Coaches noticed that, even if disabled, Roger was an impressive athlete.
Napansin namin sa kanya na kakaiba yung talent niya: kung normal man siya, mas magaling sana. Pero talagang may kapansanan, pero nakakasabay siya do’n sa mga normal. Although superior yung normal ‘no, kasi kumpleto. Pero sa other side, pagdating sa mga disabled, superior siya.
COACH JOJO POSADAS
Jojo Muros and his wife, Elma, one of Asia’s greatest track athletes and proud Pinay Olympian, recruited Roger for an athletic scholarship in Jose Rizal University, which, at that time, was starting a track and field team.
At first, Roger had a hard time in school. But after he started winning medals, he gained more confidence.
In the recently concluded ASEAN ParaGames held in Indonesia last December, Roger brought home three medals: two silvers for the 100m and 200m events, and a gold for the 400m event.
This year, he is scheduled to compete in the London Paralympics — considered one of the biggest and most prestigious games for the disabled. So far, he’s the only Filipino representative for Athletics — a feat that makes his coaches proud and determined to train him even harder.
Sabi naman naming mga coaches sa kaniya ay gawin niya yung kailangan niyang gawin. Kasi ito na yung highest e. Lahat ina-aim na makarating siya. Sana naman, ay gawin na niya ang kailangan niyang gawin. Walang atrasan. At least, diba, yung experience na nakipaglaban ka kasama ng mga katulad mo at ipinakita mo ang galing mo, na kaya ng Pinoy ‘yan.
Roger is a Palarong Pambansa veteran who has moved on to bigger things. After qualifying in the Paralympics, he’s now getting ready to compete with the world’s best in London– proving that no disability should come in the way of a dream.
Jonathan Baldoza, Rappler, Manila.